Nigerian farmers sue Shell for environmental degradation in Dutch court
“What I expect today is justice,” he added. “I expect that judges are going to proceed in this matter, have sympathy and look into our environment — tell Shell to apply the international standards where they are operating in Nigeria.”
Villagers blame the leaks on corrosion of the pressurized underground pipes. Shell claims they were caused by sabotage and says its local subsidiary cleaned up the environmental damage.
Shell lawyer Jan de Bie Leuveling Tjeenk told the court sabotage and oil theft are widespread in the Niger Delta — with around 150,000 barrels per day stolen — and often leads to serious pollution as thieves illegally tap pipelines.
An earlier Dutch court ruling accepted Shell’s assertion that the leaks were caused by sabotage, but lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that the judges should revisit that decision, saying the pipe was seriously corroded.
They added that Shell did not clean up the spills quickly enough.
“Shell did not do enough to prevent the oil spreading and damaging the plaintiffs’ land,” the villagers’ lawyer, Channa Samkalden, told the court. “Shell did not act as a careful oil company.”
Tjeenk said Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary SPDC cleans up oil spills including those caused by sabotage in the Niger Delta even though it is not legally bound to so and invests in replacing aging pipelines.